Last Minute Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console Game Recommendations

With eShop purchasing for the Wii U and 3DS set to end next year, and the majority of releases for the Wii U coming out in the 2012-2016 timeframe, it seems appropriate to bring up the immense loss of availability that we’ll see once the eShop is closed.

Digital-only releases are already only available to those brave few that bought a Wii U. There are fewer systems and games available on the Wii U VC than the original Wii VC (RIP), so even what is still available until next year is a stripped-down version of what once was. But many of the games available on Wii U VC are still unavailable to owners of the Switch via the Switch Online apps – so once the shop closes for new purchases, the selection will be further stripped down. Given the licensing and coordination required for many of the games on Wii U VC, many are unlikely to surface on the Switch’s various retro portals.

Consider the SNES alone – secondary sales for titles such as the original Harvest Moon fetch hundreds of dollars for just a cart, and the original’s minimalist style and quick gameplay are still a metric by which the modern sequels are judged. Mega Man X3, even with the dozens of “collection” reprints it has had, still goes for hundreds as well.

Nintendo managed to get Koei Tecmo on board, which has had no digital support for its retro library prior or since – at least in English (though the PC versions of these games are different, and honestly I’m glad to have even the Japanese PC versions online for these, but that’s a tangent for another article).

Square Enix even joined in, which meant that Super Mario RPG was available – at the current rate, this is likely to happen again in 2040. Although the original versions of the Final Fantasy games were available on the Wii shop, the Wii U only managed to get SMRPG, Ogre Battle 64 (another excellent game unlikely to get re-ported), and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.

If I have scared you into caring about the imminent closure of the Wii-U eShop and you’d like a few recommendations on unique games that you’re unlikely to find on store shelves, look no further.

Get out there and chart those waters!

Uncharted Waters: New Horizons (SNES) – Would you like to sail on the high seas in the 1500s, trading, pirating, pirate-hunting, mapping and selling your reports to the highest bidder? This is the game for you. With an auto-pilot function when you know your destination, and several scenarios to choose from, it’s a cool mix between RPG and simulation.

Metal Marines (SNES) – A lite-strategy game with several scenarios, you have to defend your island from incoming attacks while building up your own attack force. The depth doesn’t match up to PC strategy games of the era, and the combat is hands-off, but it’s still worth a try.

Sin and Punishment (N64) – Although I can’t speak for the Wii sequel, this N64 game is worth playing both for the bizarre, incomprehensible plot and the unusual rail-shooter mechanics.

It’s like the SNES version only much worse looking.

Ogre Battle 64 (N64) – I’ve brought this one up before, as I had to resort to cheating to get around the obnoxious alignment management issues long ago. If you can put up with either those alignment issues, or cheating to get around them, this is a strategy RPG well worth sinking your teeth into. It is also unlikely to get a “reprint” digitally, given the Ogre Battle series hasn’t had a release since 2010 and Tactics Ogre / March of the Black Queen are more popular.

Donkey Kong (GB) – It’s less like Donkey Kong and more like an action puzzle game with an impressive variety of maneuvers you can execute with only a d-pad and two buttons. It’s far larger than most Game Boy games.

What’s up, Gades?

Lufia: The Legend Returns (GBC) – The first Lufia game was a relatively by-the-books RPG, but this Game Boy Color game has a uniquely large battle party size (9 characters, even though only 3 can act each round) and an interesting formation / skill unlock system. It does have randomly-generated dungeons, though, so it may get a little tedious for some.  Plotwise it’s fairly generic, but some of the characters are fun.

Some other recommendations:


Earthbound Beginnings (NES) – It doesn’t hold up quite as well as its more famous sequel, but as a game that went unlocalized for so long, it’s worth having as a piece of history.

Metroid 2 (3DS) – It’s a bit long in the tooth, but no other Metroid game manages to feel quite so much like a horror story. There is an ever present sense of dread and danger, and a constant need to watch health and ammo. There is no map, but the layout is simple enough that you can map it out in your head as you progress. And despite its age and limited tech, the game’s finale manages to evoke real emotion, as it forces the player to reflect on everything that just transpired. This is an all time Game Boy classic.


Dostoevsky’s unsung classic, Sin and Punishment.

Sin and Punishment (N64) – Chris already recommended this game, but I want to emphatically second it. It’s possibly not as good as the Wii sequel, but it has a mechanic I really like that was removed – running. The Wii game was a flying-only affair, but the N64 original allowed you to land and run ala Space Harrier. This was used on a few stages to great effect and if I recall correctly, sometimes you simply could not fly and were forced to run and jump over obstacles ala Space Harrier rip-off World Runner. Also, as Chris mentioned, the plot is not close to understandable by any human.

Devil’s Crush (TG-16) – Better than Alien Crush, this pinball game is so metal it sets off detectors at the airport. The music in the TG-16 version of the game is preferable to the Genesis port, I’d argue.


Please read the following to ensure you do not accidentally perform this complicated series of steps in a sequential order that would result in hacking your 3DS, which would have the adverse effect of allowing you to play games that become unavailable due to the eShop closing:

After understanding all of the steps to avoid hacking a 3DS, make sure you do not use something similar to this stash of eShop games on your 3DS, which you will not be able to because you did not hack your 3DS.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments